You could easily turn the Peewee C Ice Kats hockey season into a movie
Published by Peterborough This Week, March 22, 2016
By Jesse Thomas
It’s a Cinderella story on ice. A group of 11 and 12 year-old girls became a competitive hockey team right before their very eyes and now as the season winds down the Peterborough peewee C Ice Kats don’t want it to end. Head coach Danny Kent has been amazed by the transformation of the team.
Before the season started, nine players out of 15 made the jump up from house league to rep. “We’ve come a long way, and I mean a long way,” says Kent. “When we started out some of the girls literally looked like Bambi on skates.” Now the peewee C Ice Kats are into the second round of their divisional playoffs and after knocking out the Cold Creek Comets and are battling the top seed Bancroft Jets to advance to the Ontario finals.
Kent is proud how far the team has come.
“It’s the miracle on ice,” he calls it.
“We’ve been on the ice playing and practicing close to 150 times this year and I can tell you this is a completely different team than when we started.”
It’s been a great season for sure, but Kent adds it’s not just about the fairytale on the ice. A big part has been creating that bond between the players both on and off the ice.
“Before the season we had a meeting with the parents,” he says. “The first thing I told them was, ‘the product on the ice has a huge impact from the product in the stands.’’
The coach has always had an open-door policy and it has contributed to the success on the ice.
Some off-ice activities have helped create that tight bond; like marching down George Street together in the Santa Claus parade or co-ordinating a fundraising bottle drive to help the team travel to Ottawa for a tournament where they went to an Ottawa Senators game.
For many players on the team, it was their first tournament and chance to stay in a hotel. Coach Kent identifies it as a turning point for the season.
Prior to this season, Fiona Miller had never traveled to play in a hockey tournament before.
“It was awesome. We went swimming, played mini-golf and did a lot of team bonding,” she says.
Making the jump up to rep meant Fiona could get a lot more ice time and she has enjoyed every minute of it.
“I feel like I’ve improved a lot and it’s been a lot of fun competing,” she says. “I’m a really competitive person and so playing against teams where it matters, helps make me play better.”
Teammate Mya Payne enjoyed the chance to play more hockey and build on her relationship with her friends and teammates.
“I’ve been able to get on the ice and see my team a lot more,” she says. “So we’ve been able to build on that team chemistry and get to know one another.”
The team is close. The players have all come up with special nicknames for one another, which are stitched on the left shoulder of their Ice Kats jackets.
They have also choreographed unique goal celebrations which they share on the ice and on the bench if they score.
On Monday night, the team battled the Bancroft Jets at the Kinsmen arena and throngs of family members and supporters filled the stands.
In the far corner next to the Ice Kats bench, a group whooped it up and waved their arms above their heads, squeezing dollar-store airhorns. It sounds like a giant New Year’s celebration.
To the delight of the home fans, the Ice Kats score first in this game but that would be it as they would eventually be outscored 3-1, which included an empty net goal.
Coach Kent was proud and he tells his team to keep their heads up, because he knows just how far they've come.
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